Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer
Science Fiction/Fantasy

Your Ultimate Guide to the Vorkosigan Saga Reading Order

This content contains affiliate links. When you buy through these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Laura Sackton

Senior Contributor

Laura Sackton is a queer book nerd and freelance writer, known on the internet for loving winter, despising summer, and going overboard with extravagant baking projects. In addition to her work at Book Riot, she reviews for BookPage and AudioFile, and writes a weekly newsletter, Books & Bakes, celebrating queer lit and tasty treats. You can catch her on Instagram shouting about the queer books she loves and sharing photos of the walks she takes in the hills of Western Mass (while listening to audiobooks, of course).

Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga is my favorite science fiction series ever. The series is so beloved to me that I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve reread it. I know it so well that I can easily pick up any book in the series and know immediately where I am in time and space. But if you’re just starting your journey into this wonderful universe, the Vorkosigan Saga reading order can be confusing. With sixteen books, five novellas, and a whole slew of omnibus editions, it’s hard to know where to start.

Never fear! Your friendly neighborhood Vorkosigan geek is here to help. Below are two options for a satisfying Vorkoisgan Saga reading order. The first is chronological. The second is the order I read them in, which is basically chronological (with a few tweaks) and is the order I recommend for first-time Vorkosigan readers.

I do not recommend reading the Vorkosigan Saga in publication order; it just makes no sense. Bujold herself recommends reading the books in internal chronological order. If you try to read them in publication order, you’ll end up skipping around a lot in time. I guarantee the experience won’t be nearly as enjoyable. Nevertheless, if you are interested in the publication order, you can find it here.

vorkoisgan saga reading order: internal chronological

1. Falling Free

2. Shards of Honor

3. Barrayar

Cordelia's Honor by Lois McMaster Bujold

Shards of Honor and Barrayar are collected in the omnibus edition Cordelia’s Honor.

4. The Warrior’s Apprentice

5. the Mountains of Mourning (novella)

6. The Vor Game

Young Miles by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Warrior’s ApprenticeThe Mountains of Mourning and The Vor Game are collected in the omnibus edition Young Miles.

7. Cetaganda

8. Ethan of Athos

9. Labyrinth

Miles, Mystery and Mayhem by Lois McMaster Bujold

CetagandaEthan of Athos, and Labyrinth are collected in the omnibus edition Miles, Mystery and Mayhem.

10. the Borders of Infinity (novella)

11. Brothers in Arms

12. Mirror Dance

Miles Errant by Lois McMaster Bujold

The Borders of InfinityBrothers in Arms and Mirror Dance are collected in the omnibus edition Miles Errant.

13. Memory

14. Komarr

15. A Civil Campaign

16. Winterfair Gifts (short story)

Miles in Love by Lois McMaster Bujold

KomarrA Civil Campaign and Winterfair Gifts are collected in the omnibus edition Miles in Love.

17. Diplomatic Immunity

18. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance

19. The Flowers of Vashnoi (novella)

20. Cryoburn

21. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

my vorkosigan saga reading order for ultimate enjoyment (chronological, with a few tweaks)

I read the first twelve Miles books in 2000; at the time, A Civil Campaign was the end of the series. After I gobbled down all the Miles books available, I switched to reading the new ones as soon as they came out. The reading order I ended up with is basically internal chronological, with a few minor changes, which, in my opinion, make all the difference in terms of optimal reading enjoyment.

The differences:

  1. Instead of starting with Falling Free, which takes place 200 years before Miles’s birth, I recommend starting with Shards of Honor and Barrayar, the two action packed novels that tell the story of how Cordelia and Aral, Miles’s (super badass!) parents met. It’s the natural and most high-impact introduction to the Vorkoisgan universe.
  2. Ethan of Athos, while falling chronologically between Cetaganda and Brothers in Arms, is a companion novel—it does not feature Miles or his family. I recommend going straight from Cetaganda to Brothers in Arms.
  3. A Civil Campaign marks a turning point in the series—at the time, it felt like an ending, although I’ve thoroughly loved every book Bujold has published since. I recommend reading Falling Free and Ethan of Athos after A Civil Campaign. I couldn’t bear to tear myself away from Miles from the moment he was born until the end of A Civil Campaign, but getting to go back and read these two books at a natural break in the inherent tension of the series was a delicious treat.
  4. The three novellas The Mountains of Mourning, Labyrinth and The Borders of Infinity were originally published together in a volume entitled Borders of Infinity. In includes a short framing story in which Miles reports to Simon Illyan about his most recent galactic exploits. The framing story takes place chronologically between Brothers in Arms and Mirror Dance. While you won’t miss a whole lot if you skip this volume and just read the novellas separately, I loved getting to revisit a younger Miles with some perceptive. Plus, the framing story is 95% banter between Miles and Illyan, and once you know how hilarious that is, you’re not going to want to miss it.

Without further ado, here is the Vorkoisgan Saga reading order that I recommend:

  1. Shards of Honor
  2. Barrayar
  3. The Warrior’s Apprentice
  4. The Vor Game
  5. Cetaganda
  6. Brothers in Arms
  7. Borders of Infinity
  8. Mirror Dance
  9. Memory
  10. Komarr
  11. A Civil Campaign
  12. falling free
  13. ethan of athos
  14. Winterfair Gifts (short story)
  15. Diplomatic Immunity
  16. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance
  17. The Flowers of Vashnoi (novella)
  18. Cryoburn
  19. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen

Do you have a preferred Vorkoisgan Saga reading order? Tell us all about it in the comments.

Feeling nostalgic for Miles and the gang? We’ve got you covered. Fellow Rioter Grace has some thoughts about Bujold’s portrayal of disability in the Vorkosigan Saga, and I’ve got some thoughts on what the Dendarii Fleet taught me about queer family making. And if you’re looking for more heroines like Cordelia (is there anyone like Cordelia?) check out Nikki’s list of 5 Sci-Fi Fantasy Novels with Badass Middle-Ages Heroines.